Head of EU parliament hopes to arrange first meeting of Israeli, Palestinian leaders
BRUSSELS - European Parliament head Martin Schulz said he hoped to arrange what would be a first meeting between the Israeli president and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas later Wednesday in Brussels.
Schulz, speaking with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, told reporters that with Abbas arriving in the evening at the assembly, the two men might cross paths.
"I hope (Abbas) will arrive in due time before President Rivlin will leave, so my answer to you is that the diplomatic progress I wish depends a bit on the timetables of both," he said.
"If we achieve that both are crossing the floor in the European Parliament, I think they will not run away from each other so I will do my best," he added.
Rivlin interjected: "I can assure you that I will not run away."
The European Union has been pressing hard to get the stalled Middle East peace process back on track based on a two-state, Israel and Palestinian, solution.
EU foreign ministers on Monday backed a French initiative to call an international conference on the Middle East, aimed at restarting talks which have been deadlocked since 2014.
Rivlin, elected in 2014 and a known sceptic of the two-state option, told MEPs the French plan suffered from "very fundamental flaws" and was unlikely to lead to a solution.
"The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations' sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it," he said, according to a text of his remarks.
"It is no easy task for me to stand here before you today and say that at this time, a permanent agreement for peace between us and the Palestinians cannot be achieved," Rivlin said.
Rather, the emphasis should be making conditions better for the Palestinians now, he added.